2021 · Life · Life Copes · March

Three Ways to Stop Thinking Like a Manager

Well, it’s been a hot minute since I stopped to chat with all of you. When I say life has been busy, I mean, it has been like a freaking freight train running a downhill route with the breaks malfunctioning. Hold on tight because we’re not sure where we’re going to end up.

Ever have times like that? When you can’t seem to stop to catch your breath. When it feels like all you do is work, come home, go to bed, just to get up and do it all over again the next day. Yeah, that’s been me. It’s been a struggle at times and I’ve been dealing with some lonely, depressed moods as of late. I’ve been feeling like I’m out here with my ass in the wind and no one even notices or cares, and yet, every day I get up, dress up. and show up because that’s just what I do and who I am.

Let me tell you what’s been going on in my work-work life. Notice I didn’t say work-life life. That would be simply because I feel like all I get done is work. LOL! Ugh! I know some of ya feel me.

Ya all know I work retail. One would think after the holidays retail would slow down. Apparently, that is not the case. Well, maybe for some places it’s the case, but my employer decided inventory would be a month after the holiday madness. What does that mean, you may be asking. Quite honestly, it meant my staff and I had a month to completely empty our back stock. It also meant we had to get every single piece of merchandise ‘in order’. Now, in a store that is running smoothly, that’s not a big deal, but doing so in a store that went 8 months without a manager makes inventory an entirely new ballgame.

Long story short, for me, sixty-hours a week did not stop after Christmas. The good news, we made it!! The bad news, eight months without a store manager meant our inventory was less than stellar. This means we have a lot of work ahead of us to make next year’s inventory better.

I learned quite a bit over the last month and a half. Not only about my company’s expectations, which I had a good feel for, but, I learned a lot about management, myself, and what I need to be doing to develop myself and my staff.

I’ve always been the girl who believes every day holds something new for me to learn. So far, I’ve not been disappointed with that philosophy.

I’ve contemplated a lot in the last couple of months. Mostly, I’ve thought about how I am doing as a manager. In some areas, I kill it, in others, I still have a lot to learn.

There are takeaways and I want to share them with you. Hold onto your seats, this is gonna get good.

It is OKAY if you do not know – my staff asks me a million, okay a million and one, questions a day. A good portion of those I know the answer to, but there are also a great many I have no clue about. You don’t have to know it all. Shit, I don’t know it all. Let me repeat that a little louder for those in the back; You don’t have to know it all. You don’t even have to ACT like you know it all. As a matter of fact, acting like you know it all can be very off-putting and make you look like a pompous ass.

Remember when you were in school and there was always that one kid who thought they knew everything? You know the one, it was the kid who always had an answer for everything and their stories usually came across like a one-up kind of situation and everyone found that person annoying. As a manager, if you think you know it all or act like you do it will have the same effect on your staff. They will find you completely annoying. Don’t ask me how I know that. LOL!

Okay, okay, I’ll tell you. When I first started I thought I needed to know everything because I thought if I didn’t they would think I didn’t know my job and therefore wouldn’t respect me or take direction from me. Turns out, I was wrong. One day I was asked a question I had no idea what the answer was. I said,

“I don’t know but I’ll find out”

and my staff member said,

“Thank God, I was beginning to think you were an ass.”

Brutal honesty at its finest. What that did was make me realize I don’t need or want to know it all, my staff doesn’t expect me to know it all, and it created a way for us to connect because we had to learn the answer together.

Leadership is about learning and often times that means learning right along with your staff. No one knows everything. Telling your team “I don’t know but I will find out” does a couple of things:

A. It keeps your head in the right place. Nobody likes a know-it-all and those “I’m the boss and have all the answers” bosses are irritating as f*&! No big heads because of your position, please.

B. It gives your staff permission (in a backhanded sort of way) to not know and lets them know it’s okay to not know. It also takes the energy from an I have to know everything about everything vibe to an I can learn or find out the answer attitude because you’ve set the example. Your honest answer of ‘I don’t know but will find out’ shows your staff that you’re willing to learn.

Having said that, let me say this, using “I don’t know” to avoid answering a question is not the same as not knowing the answer to a question.” I don’t know” is not a cop-out, so don’t go there!

It’s OKAY to make mistakes– When it comes to mistakes, I say go big or go home! Being able to make decisions within your position, even if those decisions turn out to be a MISTAKE, is important. Some of those decisions are going to be the right decisions, others are going to fall flat on their face. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If we didn’t make mistakes, how would we learn? Mistakes are often the best lessons. Imagine if every decision you made was the right one. How would you ever figure out what worked and what didn’t? How would you ever know what is a good thing and what is a terrible thing? Mistakes aren’t bad things, they are missed things. They teach us what to do better or differently next time.

Mistakes come in all different manners. They can be a creation that doesn’t work out. An invention. An idea. Words. An error in calculations and so much more. It can be in the way we speak to someone. Mistakes are a thing all on their own. Mistakes also lead to new ideas, things, creations, relationships, etc. You will make mistakes. Own them, admit when you’re wrong and keep moving forward. Learn from your mistakes, but don’t be afraid to take a risk or make that mistake.

Leadership is about making mistakes, admitting when you are wrong, growing from those mistakes, and moving forward with the new information you gleaned. Those mistakes make you better at what you do and help you know who you are.

It’s OKAY to give others power – WHAT? I’m the manager. What I say goes! I’m the boss. NOPE, NOPE, and NOPE. Okay, yes to you’re the manager. Yes to you make many of the decisions. NOPE to you’re the boss. Let me ask you this. What would your title be if there weren’t employees? What would your title be if there were not others working with you? Manager? I don’t think so. What would you manage? There wouldn’t be any staff so you couldn’t be a manager because there would be no one to manage. No schedules for the manager to do. No payroll for the manager to submit. No direction to give because there would be no one to direct. While your company may give the “manager” title to the position you hold within the company, what you really are my friend is a team leader.

I’ve always been the person who manages with, “I would never ask you to do anything I, myself, am not willing to do”. I am in the trenches every day doing exactly what I ask them to do. Do I have other responsibilities beyond what they do? YEP. Am I ultimately responsible for everything that goes on? YEP. That, however, does not change the fact, I want those who work with me to know I will always come alongside them. ALWAYS. Can that be exhausting? You better believe it. I do my job and expect them to do theirs. As a manager, I do all the jobs so I can lead others to do the job. In the end, I want my staff to know we are a team above all else and I act accordingly.

As the manager, yes, you will make decisions, sign documents, submit payroll, create schedules, take the heat when things don’t go right, order supplies. You will do whatever it is your company put in your job description, but in the end, that is where the manager title ends and something better begins. A sense of comradery. A sense of we’re in this together. A sense of it takes every person to make this work.

Stop thinking like a manager and start thinking like a Leader.

You are a TEAM LEADER. Simple and sweet. Your job as a manager is to lead the team you work with. Notice I didn’t say who works FOR you, I said, who you work WITH. Without them, your position would not be required. They are very important. Empowering them makes sense if you stop thinking I’m the manager. Rearrange your thoughts to building and strengthening the team. Give your staff the ability to make decisions. Enable them to try things differently within reason and company policies. Give them the power to speak what’s on their minds, share their ideas, make mistakes. Let them know you value who they are as a member of the team. Stretch them. Grow them. Empower them.

Leadership is about empowering others to reach beyond who and what they are at any given moment.

Being in management takes a lot out of us. It is exhausting most days. Hell, most days I feel like I’m mothering a group of teenagers who don’t have a lick of sense, but in the end, it is also one of the most rewarding jobs because it gives me the ability to grow not only who I am but to grow and empower those who work with me. Haha, I almost said who works within my kingdom. LOL!!!

Have a great week friends! (maybe 2 or 3…. one never knows when I’ll get another chance to write)

Till next time,

R

4 thoughts on “Three Ways to Stop Thinking Like a Manager

  1. From all you have shared here, I think I would enjoy working for you, in this world of retail. Selling stuff is fun. Taking inventory is probably not fun at all.

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    1. Awe, thank you for saying that. There are times I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing, but I definitely try to be a leader and not a “manager”. Inventory is an animal all its own and you’re right, not fun.

      Like

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